Tags: g20 | summit | tension

Money, Energy, Iran Strain World Leaders, Foreign Expert Skinner Says

Friday, 25 Sep 2009 01:41 PM

By Rick Pedraza

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Money, energy, and concern about Iran's nuclear designs are taxing world leaders' emotions at the G-20 Summit this week in Pittsburgh, foreign policy expert Kiron Skinner tells Newsmax.TV.

The U.S. recession's ripples across the globe could become a tidal wave, said Skinner, who directs Carnegie Mellon University’s International Relations and Politics Program.

“What the economic recession has done worldwide is that it has led to a demand for greater global financial regulation — and that is actually a bit frightening!” Skinner told Newsmax.TV.

The Financial Stability Board, put together to set up guidelines for compensation packages for bankers and credit rating agencies, has led to an “attempt at global control of which the United States, under both [former President George W.] Bush and now [President Barack] Obama, has been attempting to resist,” she said.

When the G-20 met in April, the economies of the United States and many other countries were under severe strain. World leaders agreed for the most part on common remedies such as dramatically increased government spending to provide some stimulus. Although the massive stimulus in the United States accomplished virtually nothing as far as job growth or curtailing job loss, Skinner said she believes government spending has worked in other countries.

“It has worked,” she said, noting there was not a universal agreement among the London G-20 members on the issue of government spending. “The French and the Germans really resisted further stimulus packages in favor of financial regulation.

“It was a debate that was not resolved in the United States’ favor. In fact, in the communiqués of the April meetings, financial regulation was the theme; nothing about government spending. The U.S. lost a lot of steam at the rhetorical level. We’ll see what happens in this meeting.”

Obama’s plans to call for an end to extensive government subsidies that encourage the use of fossil fuels that some believe to contribute to global warming, such as oil, coal, and natural gas, will not go over big in countries such as China and India.

“It’s going to be difficult,” she said of Obama’s proposal to eliminate those subsides.

Both China and India have been resistant to regulatory matters related to energy and the environment. “As we saw at the G-8 meeting in Italy in June, they're resistant to buy into any of the attempts to bring down green house gas emissions without further concessions by the United States on [other] issues."

The tension Iran President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad brought to the meeting of the United Nations General Assembly this week has had a ripple effect on the G-20 Summit in Pittsburgh, Skinner said. Demonstrators took to the streets to protest the fact that he was allowed to speak before the body.

“There’s a lot of protest activity going on in the city,” Skinner said of the prevalent mode of the Pittsburgh summit. “We see some of the street theater we saw in Seattle, but I don’t think it will be as severe. I don’t agree with the critics on the street, but I understand the sentiment.

Iran added strain to U.S.-Chinese relations over the revelation Friday of another secret Iranian nuclear facility and what kind of sanctions should be imposed.

“There’ll be meetings on Iran next month in which the Iranians are to come to the table and talk about their nuclear program," Skinner said. But, ultimately, if those meetings stall, the Obama administration has said it will turn to China to support further economic sanctions. It’s not clear that the Chinese will do this at all.

Skinner said she believes globalization critics have two legitimate concerns that must be addressed at the G-20:

  • What does globalization actually mean? Is it protectionist policies versus free trade? “A lot of the issues aren’t very clear because globalization means different things to different people,” she said.

  • What is the G-20 actually supposed to do? “It’s a relatively new entity established in the late 1990s to respond to the Asian economic crisis. It includes fast-growing, developing nations along with more industrialized nations, like the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Germany.

    It was an attempt to bring all member nations into conversation together, unlike the GH, which is composed of all industrialized nations. As the G-20 system continues to grow, demands are being made for more commitments from the United States and the industrialized nations, Skinner said.

    “It’s not clear that in an informal body like the G-20, which does not have a permanent office and does not have a permanent staff or secretariat, what it really is supposed to do?” Skinner said. “So, there’s some real concerns about this meeting.”

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